Better-than-expected interim results from housebuilder Bellway (BWY) sends its share price up 3.7% to £16.67. The £2 billion cap reports a 25% increase in volumes to 3,245 homes sold in the period. Stockbroker Davy doesn't believe such volume growth will be repeated in the second-half but it does push through upgrades to margin estimates. Operating margins came in at 15.6% versus 12.8% a year earlier; and return on capital employed has risen by 660 basis points to 17.1%.
Energy giant SSE (SSE) unveils plans to freeze energy prices through to 2016, split its retail and wholesale arms and sell-off £1 billion of assets. It's also looking for £100 million a year of cost savings to cover profit pressures down the line and protect the dividends. The shares react modestly, up 24p to £15.22, although pressure to follow suit puts the squeeze on British Gas-owner Centrica (CNA), which falls a little more than 2% to 325.3p. Shares last looked at SSE in a web story in October, and at the wider UK energy market in depth in December.
Carpets and floor coverings group Carpetright (CPR) falls 6.8% to 546.5p on its third profit warning in six months. The pace of recovery seen in the third quarter has not been sustained into the last three months of its financial year. Improving UK housing market transactions have yet to benefit the business and trading remains dire in Holland. As a result, pre-tax profits for the year to 26 April will come in between £3.5 million and £5.5 million, significantly south of the £7.8 million consensus.
Troubled insurer RSA (RSA) falls 7.8% to 87.7p as the shares from yesterday’s rights issue start trading. The FTSE 100 constitutent has raised £748 million from issuing new shares at 56p to plug a hole in its balance sheet following fraud in Ireland and storms in the UK.
North Sea operator EnQuest (ENQ) falls 7.7% to 133.1p as increased costs and a higher tax charge led to a drop in profits despite increased production and revenue. Pre-tax profit is down 18% at $330.9 million with cost of sales up from $458.4 million to $540.8 million and its tax bill advancing from $41.2 million to $141.3 million.
A confident pre-close update reminds investors of the attractions of data centres specialist Iomart (IOM:AIM). It tells investors to expect 'very strong' full-year 2013 results, with organic growth bolstered by last year's acquisition of Backup Technologies. The shares rally 5% to 256p. Shares looked at the data centres space, including Iomart, in detail in December.
A robust trading update helps film distributor-to-brand licencing expert Entertainment One (ETO) rise 1% to 338.15p. We recently interviewed the company to better understand the business model and growth opportunities; here's the 'Griller' article.
Men's suit hire specialist Moss Bros (MOSB) eases 1.4% to 99p despite delivering positive annual numbers, a good start to the year and outlining compelling growth plans. Full-year pre-tax of £4.4 million are ahead of expectations, e-commerce sales are on a growth tear and the cash-rich retailer pleases by hiking the total dividend from 0.9p to 5p.
Engineering services group Redhall (RHL:AIM) falls 1.2% to 41.5p after a mixed trading update that reveals project delays and an exceptional charge not exceeding £500,000 after a business review. It joins the growing ranks of businesses that need a good second-half period to meet full-year earnings forecasts. We warned about the risks to the stock earlier this month in Shares.
Narrowing of full-year losses and a 64% rise in sales helps to drive up model maker-to-leisure attractions operator Paragon Entertainment (PEL:AIM) 3.2% to 4p. Gross profit increased by a third to £2.6 million and net cash is up 80% to £0.9 million. We looked at the small cap's prospects in February – you can read that article here.
AIM-quoted Independent Resources (IRG:AIM) gains 14.6% to 5.88p as it announces positive results from an independent audit of its Ksar Hadada permit onshore Tunisia. The report attributes risked recoverable resources of 33.9 million barrels of oil equivalent to the Sidi Toui and Gazelle prospects – the company is looking to bring in partners to fund a significant portion of a planned work programme.
Online personal health services specialist Fitbug (FITB:AIM) sparks up 15.8% to 0.55p on news the micro cap leisure goods group has appointed six retail distribution partners to meet global demand for wearable technology.
Specialist building outfit Hightex (HTIG:AIM) plunges 56.3% to 0.52p after its share suspension was lifted following a halt in stockmarket trading in September 2013 due to financial issues in its Brazilian joint venture.